Regardless of age, relationship status or sexual orientation, if you are a sexually active female, you are at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). STDs are also known as STIs, or sexually transmitted infections. No matter what you call it, an STD or STI is an infection that is passed from one individual to another through sexual contact – whether oral, vaginal or anal.
Unlike in men, where a sore on the penis is easily spotted and any sort of discharge is highly unusual, the signs and symptoms of many of the most common STDs are often overlooked in women and therefore go untreated. In some cases, the signs – like burning and itching, or a slight discharge – are confused with the signs of another ailment such as a urinary tract infection or a yeast infection. Other times, physical symptoms like genital sores are hidden inside the vagina and are hard to spot. Moreover, some STDs are completely asymptomatic: they have no symptoms at all. As such, it is highly recommended to get regular STD screenings to ensure early detection of any infections that may be present.
Left untreated, STDs can lead to much more serious health problems over time, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, infections in other parts of the body and even cancer. Additionally, untreated sores can put a female at a much higher risk of contracting HIV.
Aside from abstaining, the only truly effective prevention method against STDs is the correct and consistent use of condoms.
Below is a list of five of the most common STDs in women, as well as their symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact us at 215-465-3500 or 856-435-9090 so that you can get tested and learn about your treatment options. We are comfortable discussing your questions and concerns about STDs, and will do our best to put you at ease.
- HPV (genital warts): HPV, or human papillomavirus, is often characterized by soft growths on the genital walls, inner thighs or cervix. Sometimes HPV has no symptoms – the warts are not visible. Because of this, it is extremely important to get regular pap tests to check for the virus. If left untreated, certain strains of HPV can cause abnormal changes in the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer.
- Chlamydia: Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs and often has no symptoms – it is referred to as a “silent” disease. When symptoms do occur, they include an abnormal vaginal discharge, painful urination and bleeding between periods. When left untreated, Chlamydia most often leads to fertility problems by causing PID and infections in the fallopian tubes.
- Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea – one of the oldest known STDs – comes with no signs or symptoms in about half of the women who contract it. When symptoms are present, they include a yellowish vaginal discharge, painful urination, and burning, itching, redness and swelling in the vaginal area.
- Syphilis: Syphilis is sometimes called ‘the great imitator’ because it copies the symptoms of other diseases. Syphilis is passed from person to person through contact with a syphilis sore, which can occur on many different places of the body. The disease progresses through three stages. If you have any sores, rashes or unusual discharge, particularly in your groin area, it is important for you to schedule a gynecologic healthcare appointment.
- Genital Herpes: Many infected individuals show little or no symptoms of a genital herpes infection. Other times, small blisters are visible on or around the genitals or rectum, and are often painful. During the first outbreak of blisters, the infection may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms. When herpes blisters are present, and especially when they break, the disease is most at risk of being transmitted. There is no cure for genital herpes, but medication can reduce the pain and speed healing.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 19 million new STD infections every year-and this figure represents only a fraction of the true number of STDs in the U.S. Since sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a common health concern for women of all ages, and can lead to long-term health consequences, we treat them very seriously.
We believe that it is our responsibility to educate you about STDs, teach you methods for STD prevention and provide the best available treatment.